The high flying idea started with the federal Air Mail Act in 1934, according to Kanab’s local newspaper, the Kane County Standard on March 16 of that year. A landing strip was built on the Chamberlain farm – and was basically a cleared patch of pasture!

From those humble beginnings, the Kanab Airport has remained in operation ever since! With the recent completion of the new terminal building, the airport continues to be a community asset. 

At the end of World War II, several Kanab men, who had served in the Army Air Corps, saw the potential of air service boosting the local economy. Veteran flight officer Emron F. Robinson was credited with spearheading the terminal building efforts. With funds from the Federal Airport Act of 1946, the State of Utah, and a $1500 donation from the local Lions Club, a site approved by the Civil Aeronautics Authority was purchased by Kanab City.

Work on the Kanab Airport began in the spring of 1948. By August, the runways were completed. On October 24, 1948, the official dedication of the airport was conducted by Governor Herbert Maw. A crowd of approximately 2,000 were in attendance, including movie stars flown in by Universal Motion Picture Studio. Yvonne De Carlo christened a civilian twin-engine plane and the field!

Local Kanab builder Clifford Heaton was awarded the contract for a new airport administration building with a bid of $10,835 in 1958. That building/terminal was expanded in 1980. The addition included an outdoor waiting area and sheltered canopy.   

Airport manager Richard Brewer, along with wife Sharlotte, lived at the airport. Brewer held the airport manager position for 17 years, living in their house onsite. In addition to managing the airport, the Brewers owned a scenic air touring company that Dick served as pilot. 

Other airport improvements include the addition of numerous hangars, and the Kane County Sheriff’s Department Search & Rescue facility, which was built there in 2008. 


As you can see, the airport has been a city priority for years! It’s colorful history includes many movie stars flying in for filming westerns, government official visits, fire response planes, local pilots, premiere guided hunting trips, and with the growth of Best Friends, numerous animal lover visits!

Kanab City and Kane County, along with some local airport enthusiasts, wanted nicer terminal digs to welcome visitors. They believed in the saying, “if you build it, they will come.” The former terminal building was demolished, and a spacious, attractive new terminal and electrical vault replaced it. 

According to Kanab City Manager Joe Decker, the new facility was funded with money from the Kane County Recreation and Transportation Special Service District. The State of Utah partnered on the electrical vault. Upkeep, grounds and maintenance are handled by Kanab City. 

Jeff Turner is the current airport manager of the grounds located approximately three miles south of Kanab, on the Utah/Arizona border. The building’s physical address is 2738 South Highway 89A. “Airports have always been something I’ve been interested in,” Turner said of the job. 

Decker said the addition of Classic Helicopter Service to the Kanab Airport has been a gigantic boost to the community; for not only quick med evac air service availability, but also as great partners for search and rescues. “They have their own hangar, and buy fuel from us. With their help down there, it has been a record year for fuel sales.”

Immediate plans are to do some decorating of the building’s interior with old historic pictures and airport items, said Turner. “We hope the improvements will increase tourism, and people will want to come back. I think it will drive economics now and in the future.”

Decker praised the job Turner has done, monitoring the building of the new airport, grounds-keeping, and helping with the recent Rutan Fly-in. They both hope more events will be a part of the airport’s future. “Jeff has done a great job in the Master Plan development, and has been a big asset.”

“I think the airport is a valuable service for the community,” concluded Decker.

There will be a grand opening in October. Watch the Southern Utah News for details. 

*Editor’s note: Historical references are from the Kanab Municipal Master Plan, which was undertaken with a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. Also cited,  the Kane County Standard, October of 1948.